Contemporary contestations over working time: time for health to weigh in

Jane Dixon, Gemma Carey, Lyndall Strazdins, Cathy Banwell, Daniel Woodman, John Burgess, Michael Bittman, Danielle Venn, Ginny Sargent

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    BACKGROUND: Non-communicable disease (NCD) incidence and prevalence is of central concern to most nations, along with international agencies such as the UN, OECD, IMF and World Bank. As a result, the search has begun for 'causes of the cause' behind health risks and behaviours responsible for the major NCDs. As part of this effort, researchers are turning their attention to charting the temporal nature of societal changes that might be associated with the rapid rise in NCDs. From this, the experience of time and its allocation are increasingly understood to be key individual and societal resources for health. The interdisciplinary study outlined in this paper will produce a systematic analysis of the behavioural health dimensions, or 'health time economies' (quantity and quality of time necessary for the practice of health behaviours), that have accompanied labour market transitions of the last 30 years--the period in which so many NCDs have risen sharply.METHODS/DESIGN: The study takes a mixed-methods approach to capture and explain the relationships between work time and health behaviours. It combines: longitudinal analysis of temporal organisation of work in Australia, with the goal of establishing associations between labour timescapes and health behaviours and health time economies; an in-depth qualitative investigation of employee experiences of the perceived impact of their labour timescapes on 'health time economies'; and, a stakeholder analysis, will uncover whether, how and why (or why not) stakeholders consider health an important dimension- of work and industrial relations policy, and what efforts are being made to mitigate health impacts of work.DISCUSSION: The study posits that time is a key mechanism through which particular forms of labour market policies impact health. The labour market flexibility agenda appears to be operating as a time re-distributive device: it has supported the removal of regulations that governed 'the when' of working time and removed limits over the amount of working time, thus extending by many hours the notion of the 'standard' working week and forcing employees to adapt their shared or social times as well as their time for health.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1068-1068
    JournalBMC Public Health
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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